Nauru is an island in the South Pacific Ocean, south of the Marshall Islands, close to the Equator. The terrain consists of sandy beach rises to a fertile ring around raised coral reefs, with phosphate plateau in the center. In fact, Nauru is counted as one of the three great phosphate rock islands of the Pacific. The highest point is Command Ridge at 65 meters (213 feet).
Environmental issues include limited natural freshwater resources and intensive phosphate mining over the past century. Nauru is mostly dependent on a single, aging desalination plant; but, roof storage tanks are also used to collect rainwater. British phosphate mining has left the central 90 percent of the island a wasteland and threatens limited remaining land resources. Margo Deiye is Third Secretary and Sustainable Development Advisor to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Nauru at the United Nations in New York, and represented Nauru at the 2012 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20.
Although Nauru has no recorded protected areas, there is a Nauru Fisheries and Marine Resources Authority (NFMRA) concerned with the Nauru Agreement to regulate the western and central Pacific tuna supply. Buada Lagoon is the only landlocked, slightly brackish, freshwater lake. The beach at Anibare Bay is supposed to be the best place to swim. The Nauru Reed Warbler is endemic, and one of only two native breeding land-birds on the island.
A British whaling ship was the first European encounter with Nauru in the 18th century. During the 19th century an Irish convict escaped from Norfolk Island became a dictator on Nauru for more than a decade. Later in the 19th century the introduction of firearms and alcohol lead to a decade long civil war, which reduced the population by a third. Subsequently, the island was annexed by Germany, and Christian missionaries arrived. At the onset of the 20th century, phosphate was discovered on the island, and mining began under German administration. Early in WWI, the British took control of the island, and the mining operations. In WWII, Germany attacked Nauru twice, and afterwards Japan occupied the island. Following WWII, Nauru again came under British trusteeship. In 1968, Nauru became the world’s smallest independent republic.
In 1989, Nauru took legal action in the International Court of Justice against Australia’s failure to remedy the environmental damage caused by phosphate mining during its administration, which lead to an out-of-court settlement to rehabilitate the mined-out areas. Since 2001, Australia has maintained immigration detention facilities on Nauru, primarily housing “boat people” trying to reach Australian shores. As a result of an informal defense agreement with Australia, Nauru is listed among countries without armed forces. Nauru’s official currency is the Australian dollar.
Not only was Nauru declared the world’s least visited country, with only 200 tourists in 2011, but also the world’s fattest country. In addition to the “Discover Nauru” website, Nauru Tourism maintains a Facebook group on tourism development. There are apparently only 2 hotels in Nauru, both are linked to the airport by a free bus, including the 119 room Menen Hotel. Our Airline is the official carrier of Nauru, flying between the island and Brisbane, Australia. Cenpac Net is the island’s service provider and Internet center.
- Tourism as a Feasible Option for Sustainable Development in Small Island Developing States(SIDS): Nauru as a Case Study by M Fagence, 1999
- An uncertain future for tourism in microstates; the case of Nauru by M Fagence, 1997